Recently, I had a Facebook status that caused a bit of a stir amongst some of my friends.
Perhaps it has a bit of ambiguity, but as many people have misconstrued what I wrote, and because I believe what I said does have merit, I’ll draw it out as best I can.
Let’s begin with the qualifiers.
I have never been a supporter of President Trump. From the outset I was against Donald Trump as a presidential candidate, I disagreed heartily with the sentiment of “Libertarians for Trump” movement begun by the esteemed Walter Block. His case of voting for Trump if one were a Libertarian within swing states was logical and pragmatic, however it was indicative of where political calculation will lead one – namely away from strong philosophical grounds.*
(Gary Johnson anyone?)
I have spoken multiple times of late on The Subversive Liberty Podcast of my distaste for “crudeness” in language. I consider myself one who chooses his words carefully, and other than good-natured ribbing amongst friends and family (especially with alcohol) I try to refrain from ad-hominems and instead prefer to get socratic with people whom I might otherwise be in agreement with. The question of whether it is “beneath the dignity of the office” is irrelevant to me – it should be beneath the dignity of every person to unnecessarily insult others in such a crass manner. That however, is merely my opinion.
A very easy inference one can draw from my posts is that Trump’s tweets don’t matter, and perhaps that’s where people got off track. My comments were not directed so much at an individual person, but the construction of our larger media narrative in the US. At the heart of this is the question of what the “issues of the day” should be. As we all know, the issue in the 21st century is not having access to information but wading through the massive amounts of it and distinguish between the necessary and unimportant. In this regard, media outlets of every size have the ability to shape the reality we perceive by what they choose to cover, or choose not to cover in many cases (we’ll leave aside how they cover stories for another time). From the million dollar studios of Fox and CNN to my makeshift set at home – there is only so much time that can be dedicated to distilling information into a consumable format (and if this was not an issue media as we know it now or knew it then need never have existed) We are not omniscient creatures capable of ultimate knowledge we are limited and recognizing anything else is a case of hubris.
In my estimation, one that is shared amongst libertarians, the most important issues of the day include the foreign and domestic wars the US government wages (the war on drugs being an example of a domestic war), a debt laden society that puts not only the government but individuals and families in a precarious situation, and the system of central banking and fiat currency that dominate this modern world and supports our credit driven society.
What Trump is doing
What President Obama was able to accomplish through his charm and a friendly media President Trump has turned on it’s head and accomplished the same mission – distraction from the horrors. It’s no secret that trust in the media (especially cable news and other major publications) has declined recently, and a major part of Candidate Trump’s appeal was his confrontational style with major outlets like CNN and the New York Times. Whether or not Trump believes or even cares about the unbecoming things he tweets or not, he uses his supporter’s distrust of the media and his opponent’s blinding hatred to influence the narrative. Where the media was enamoured with Obama, they are enamoured with hating and discrediting the Trump campaign.
What can I do about the war?
One criticism of the original status, whose meaning should be clearer now, was questioning just what one individual can do about the wars, and I think the answer is the same there as it was under President Obama. I was asked the day after Trump was elected what I thought and I responded by saying nothing has changed. The same types of people (politicians) were going to engage in the same kind of tomfoolery we’ve come to expect, and from the perspective of ending not only our interventionist foreign policy but the drug war and other unnecessary government intrusions. Those are the issues that should matter, creating a more free and prosperous society in the process. As to what the individual can do? Exactly what I’m trying to do with this piece, force people to question the motives of the media and the morality of the policy. It doesn’t take a lot of gumption to say the President tweets dumb things – it does take a lot to say that our actions in the Middle East have made the world less safe, created the vacuum for organizations like Daesh (ISIS), as well as contributing to the migrant and refugee crisis we see in Europe. To prove my point further I will simple add that the only time the media has resoundingly called Trump’s actions “presidential” was when he bombed an airfield in Syria.
Doesn’t it contribute to the divide?
Another criticism was that by saying “you didn’t care about it under Obama” I am “hampering American Politics” – the point being that I have I “have perpetuated that false binary by contrasting the relative silence under Obama to the outrage under Trump. The difference between the men is the decorum of the office.” I frankly could not have asked for a better way to emulate what frustrates me about this entire trope. I don’t care when the Obama White House comes on TV and massages the bombing of a hospital or the “collateral damage” (see: innocent children) in the latest drone strike I care that the children died. I don’t care that Trump talks about law and order, I care that the War on Drugs is a multi-billion dollar industry that incarcerates innocents and turns them into criminals. Both of these government programs which we as citizens are forced to pay for have not made the world better, and we certainly aren’t safer for them being implemented. It’s really not a difficult idea to wrap your head around, and the fact that these factors do not bring shame to the American people and the politicians who rule over us in their perfect wisdom should tell you something about the standard political value structure and the media narrative that envelopes.
There is no moral high ground for being mad at Trump for making fun of people while ignoring the crimes committed by past presidents. In fact Trump is the ugly reality of what politics is – violence, corruption, and brutes imposing their will on others. This shouldn’t be the way we conduct ourselves. We as Americans (really all humans) should strive for a free and peaceful society – one that doesn’t aggress on the rights of individuals. It’s a radical concept in today’s world to imagine a State that doesn’t tell you the precise manner in which you must start a business, or tax your vices, but it is possible. If we stop spending trillions killing imagine what people could come together and do – voluntarily.